Skip to main content

Full text of "Buddhist Sculpture: Recent Acquisitions"

See other formats

Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 

Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin 

Published bi-monthly by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts 
Subscription price, 50 cents per year postpaid. Single copies, 10 cents: after a year, 20 cents 

Vol. XX 

Boston, August, 1922 

No. 120 

Fig / . Head of Buddha 

Amaravati, 1st or 2d century 

Buddhist Sculpture 

Recent Acquisitions* 

Gautama Buddha was born at Kapilavastu 560 B. C. and 
died at Kusinara 483 B. C. His doctrines and discipline 
(the "Aryan Eightfold Path," etc.) relate exclusively to indi- 
vidual effort, and in no way imply or necessitate a cult. The 
popular Brahmanical gods are recognized merely as beings 
like men in need of salvation, and are mentioned only inci- 
dentally as worshippers or helpers of the Buddha. After the 
death of the Buddha and cremation the ashes were divided 
into eight parts, over which were erected memorial funeral 
mounds (stupas). These mounds and similar memorial monu- 
ments (caityas) subsequently erected soon came to be regarded 
by the lay adherents of the Buddhist system as sacred sites 
and places of pilgrimage. The beginnings of Buddhist art are 
probably to be traced to the tokens or medals, stamped with 

Of the objects illustrated in the present article, those from Amaravati 
and the Gupta bronze (Figs. 1, 4 and 9) are gifts from the Government 
Museum, Madras; the large Padmapani (Fig. 8) was purchased in 
1922 from the George Bruce Upton fund ; the Khmer head belongs to 
the Rosi collection, and the remainder were purchased in India in 1921 
through Dr. Coomaraswamy from the Marianne Brimmer fund. 

symbols referring to the event of the Buddha's life commemo- 
rated at each site, which the pilgrims carried away as mementos 
of their visits ; the Wheel, for example, referring to the Preach- 
ing of the First Sermon in the Deer Park at Benares, spoken 
of as Setting in motion the Wheel of the Law — a tree, the 
Great Enlightenment — a stupa, the death of the Master. In 
the reign of Asoka (272-232 B. C.) many more caityas were 
erected, amongst which may be mentioned those of Barhut, 
Sanci, Bodhgaya and Amaravati in their original forms. In 
the second and first centuries B. C, in the first three cases, 
and in the latter part of the second century A. D., in the 
latter case, under the patronage of Sunga and Andhra kings, 
elaborate stone railings, usually sculptured, and sculptured 
gateways were added to the existing monuments. The three 
first mentioned sites are the types of what is known as " Early 
Buddhist Art." This art consists entirely of sculpture in relief. 
It illustrates the already renowned episodes of the Buddha's 
life, though representing the Buddha in these scenes merely by 
symbols ; and of edifying representations of mythical events in 
the previous lives (according to the jatakos, or " birth stories") 

XX, 46 


Fig. 2. Maya Devi or Lakshmi coins 
Kantarodai, Ceylon, 1st or 2d century A. D. 

of the Buddha, and of events subsequent to the death of the 
Buddha, exercising here the greater liberty of representing all 
the characters in a realistic manner. By this time (second to 
first century B. C), however, the devotional (Bhakti) phase of 
Indian religion was already in full development ; cults of the 
Hindu deities were in process of evolution, and Buddhism could 
not escape from the same necessities of the lay community. 
How and when the first images of Buddha were made is 
doubtful— certainly as early as the first century B. C. The 
oldest extant images date from the first century A. D., appear- 
ing abundantly in the Indo-Hellenistic art of Gandhara and at 
Mathura. A Greek origin of the Indian Buddha type has 
been argued from the Gandhara sculptures, the sources of 
which are Hellenistic as much as Indian ; but it must be taken 
into account that many of the Mathura figures are unrelated to 
Gandhara types and evidently derived from older Indian art ; 
that the " seated yogi," the type of the seated Buddha, is a 
purely Indian conception ; and that the image itself fulfills the 
necessities of a cult developed in India. Images of Hindu 
gods were certainly made as early as the second century B. C. 
At Amaravati in the second century A. D. we find the old 
symbolic schemes are still in use ; and side by side with these, 
anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha in standing 
and seated poses, and here, as also in Ceylon, the Gandhara 
influence, if traceable at all, is very faint. It is here, more- 
over, that we meet almost for the first time with Buddhist art 
that is Buddhist in feeling as well as in formal motifs — the 
early Buddhist art is edifying, but not psychically Buddhist, 
the Gandhara art neither vigorous nor spiritual. By the fourth 
century A. D. and in the succeeding centuries (Gupta period) 
Buddhist and Hindu art are fully developed; it is the Buddhist 
art of this time and of the early Mediaeval period (seventh to 
ninth century) which is reflected in the Buddhist art of China 
and Japan, as well as in Further India and Indonesia. Bud- 
dhist art in India continues to flourish in Bihar and Bengal under 
the Pala kings until the end of the twelfth century, when the 
monasteries were destroyed by Muhammadan conquerors. 
Buddhism and Buddhist art are no longer recognizable as 
independent elements of Indian religion. It is only in Ceylon, 
and elsewhere outside of India proper, and then very often in 
a highly modified form, that Buddhism has survived to the 
present day. 


The original catty a at Amaravati,* on the south 
bank of the Kistna River, Guntur district, Madras 
Presidency, dates from about 200 B. C. A few 
fragmentary sculptures may be of the same age. 
The casing slabs and the great railing, and also the 
Buddha figures, date from the latter half of the 
second century A. D. The railing is the most 
magnificent known of its kind : about 600 feet in 
circumference, it stood some 1 3 or 14 feet above 
the pavement level. Each upright was decorated 

*Ferguson, J., Tree and Serpent Worship, 2d edition, 1873. 
Burgess, J., Buddhist Stupas of Amaravati and Jagayyapeta, 1887. 
Notes on the Amaravati Stupa, 1882. Rea, A., South Indian 
Buddhist Antiquities, 1894. 

with a full lotus rosette in the centre and half 
rosettes above and below, with reliefs in the 
intervening spaces. Each crossbar bore a large 
lotus rosette on each side and was mortised into 
the uprights. The coping was adorned with a 
long, wavy flower roll carried by men, with reliefs 
of Buddhist themes in the V-shaped spaces above 
the roll and between the pairs of bearers. The 
casing slabs, which measured rather more than 
3 by 5 feet, bore representations of Buddhist 
worship and symbols. Nothing now remains 
in situ, much of the structure having been 
destroyed for building material a little over a 
century ago. The greater part of what survives 
is now in the British Museum and in the 
Government Museum, Madras. To the latter 
institution the Museum is indebted for the gift of 
twenty-one sculptured fragments. 

The oldest of these pieces are two architrave 
(torana) fragments.* One of these, countersunk 
in low relief, shows a procession of men and 
animals (lion and boar?), and is very much worn ; 
the other shows a makara (" crocodile M ) and lion, 
and is better preserved. Both may be assigned to 
the first or second century B. C. All of the other 
pieces may be assigned to the latter part of the second 
century A. D. Of these, the battered Buddha 
head (Fig. 1 ),t in spite of its condition, sufficiently 
well illustrates the Indian Buddha type of the 

*One of these has been published by Burgess, Buddhist Stupas of 
Amaravati, etc., pi. XXXI, Fig. 2, and page 69. Also in Rea, A., 
South Indian Buddhist Antiquities, pi. XLI, Fig. 2 and page 49. 

tReproduced, Burgess, loc. cit. pi. LVI, Fig. 7, right. 

Fig. 3. Bacchanalian Group, 1st or 2d century 


XX. 47 

Fig. 4. Worship of the Bodhi Tree : Casing Slab 

Amaravati, 1st to 3d century 

finest period of Buddhist art. A second head, in 
stucco, is hopelessly defaced. Of the casing slabs 
(urddhvapatta) y one (Fig. 4) showing the worship of 
the Bodhi tree (representing the Great Enlighten- 
ment) is almost complete, and apart from surface 
corrosion is well preserved. Numerous other frag- 
ments of casing slabs show the worship of the 
Dharma cakya (Wheel of the Law) ; the triratna 
("Three Gem") symbol, representing the Buddha, 
the Law, and the Monastic Order ; and the pun- 
naghata (vase of flowers), an auspicious symbol. 
Another small fragment shows a seated man playing 
a lute (vina, but not of the modern type). Of the 
railing (cedilla), a pillar base preserves the lower half 
lotus rosette and a band of fine conventional floral 
ornament springing from the open jaws of a 
"crocodile" {makara), while a complete crossbar 
shows a full lotus rosette, the outer row of petals 
being replaced by a conventional border. Two 
fragments of coping (ushnisha) preserve the figures 
of two bearers and parts of the flower roll, which is 
being drawn out of the open jaws of a makara ; 
a smaller fragment shows the worship of a stupa. 
All of the structural elements and most of the 
typical motifs of the sculpture are thus exemplified 
in the series of fragments, twenty-one in all, which 
the Museum of Fine Arts is so fortunate in 


Certain coins or tokens, chiefly from the old 
Buddhist site of Kantarodai, in North Ceylon, 

may be referred to here.* These are rectangular 
plaques, the largest recorded measuring one and a 
quarter inches in length and seven-tenths of an 
inch in width, and weighing eighty-three grains. 
The earlier types are made of an alloy of lead and 
copper in the proportion of about four parts of 
lead to one part of copper ; the later form, of 

*Pieris, P. E., Nagadipa and Buddhist Remains in Jaffna, 
J. R. A. S.. Ceylon Branch, No. 72. 1921. See also Parker, H., ibid., 
No. 27, 1884, and Siill, J., ibid., 1907, page 208. 


Fig. 5. Yakshi, from a railing pillar 
Mathura, 1st or 2d century 

XX, 48 


Fig. 6. Head of Buddha 
Mathura, 5th century 

inferior execution, is made entirely of copper. 
Whether the objects are actually coins, or tokens 
or medals of some kind, is uncertain. The details 
of the design vary only slightly. The typical 
form shows, obverse, a standing figure of a woman 
flanked by two lotus stems which rise to more than 
her full height, the expanded flowers supporting 
elephants holding inverted water jars. The woman's 
figure is narrow-waisted, with full and prominent 
breasts; the arms are held in slightly varying 
positions, the two hands holding the lotus stems. 
The costume consists of heavy jewelry — earrings, 
bracelets, girdle and anklets ; certain faint indica- 
tions of a transparent muslin garment are sometimes 
recognizable. The reverse bears a large svasti^a 
raised on a staff, the base of which is enclosed by 
a railing (vedika). The female figure with the 
elephants is the well-known type of the Indian 
goddess Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and pros- 
perity and consort of Vishnu : the occasion repre- 
sented being that of her miraculous birth and 
lustration at the Churning of the Ocean. The 
motif occurs, however, very frequently in early 
Buddhist art, e. g., at Barhut and Bodhgaya 
(second century B. C), at Sanci (first century 
B. C.) and at Amaravati and in Kashmir. It has 
been shown by Foucher* that the representation in 
this connection must be of Maya Devi, the mother 
of the Buddha, rather than of the Hindu goddess 
Lakshmi, the scene being that of the miraculous 
birth, one of the four great events of the Buddha's 
life. That the infant Bodhisattva is not represented 

*Foucher, A., Les images indiennes de la Fortune, Memoires con- 
cernant I'Asie Orientale, Tome I, Paris, 1913, and The Beginnings of 
Buddhist Art. London. 1918. 

is entirely in accord with the tradition of early 
Buddhist art, in which the presence of the Buddha 
is never indicated otherwise than by the mise en 
scene or by symbols. In Kashmir at a later date 
the motif is confused with the representation of 
Hariri, the " Buddhist Madonna," consort of 
Kuvera, the Buddhist god of wealth. Probably 
only during the Gupta period the representation 
came to be regarded as that of the Brahmanical 
Lakshmi. The Sinhalese coins or tokens are 
probably to be referred to the first and second 
centuries A. D. 


The School of Mathura (Kushan period, first to 
third century A. D. ; Gupta period, fourth to 
seventh century) is represented among the recent 
acquisitions by numerous Buddhist fragments. 
Certain of these may be Jain, and some may be 
older than the first century A. D., but the majority 
are Buddhist of the Kushan period. All are of 
mottled red sandstone. 

The Mathura sculpture of the Kushan period 
may be described as a direct continuation of the 
old Indian School of Barhut. The art is funda- 
mentally and profoundly Indian. At the same 
time certain motifs and compositions are clearly of 
classical origin, and show the influence of the 
Graeco- Buddhist art of Gandhara. In the Gupta 
period Mathura sculptures share the general 
character of the national style, and such of the 
foreign formulae as survive have been thoroughly 

Of the earlier pieces the most interesting (Fig. 3) 
is a miniature railing pillar, with a representation of 
a " Bacchanalian scene " on one side, the reverse 
with lotus rosettes. The Bacchanalian group 
consists of a pot-bellied, bearded male figure like a 
Silenus, probably representing Kuvera (Jambhala), 
and two female figures. The male figure is 
clothed in short tight drawers and the left arm 
embraces the female figure to the proper left ; a 
considerable degree of intoxication is suggested. 
The female figure on the proper left is clothed in 
a tunic and long skirt, the left hand resting on the 
protuberant belly of the male. The second female 

Fig. 7. Nalanda Monastery Seal 


XX, 49 

Fig. 8. Padmapani 

Bihar or Bengal, 1 2 th century 

figure is now headless, the top of the pillar being 
broken away, and is visible behind the male figure 
only to the waist ; the right hand rests on the 
shoulder of the male. 

Several sculptures of this type* have been 
discovered at Mathura, and related Bacchanalian 
scenes are represented amongst the Graeco-Buddhist 
sculptures of Gandhara. The type of the male 
figure is clearly derived from that of the Classical 
Silenus, but the theme is certainly Buddhist and 
the male personage a Yaksha, probably Kuvera. 
The exact significance of these groups, no doubt 
connected with survivals of Yaksha worship in 
Buddhist cults, has not yet been fully explained. 

Amongst a number of other fragments of Mathura 
sculpture are portions of railing pillars in red sand- 
stone, consisting of female busts, the upper parts of 
standing figures represented in relief. In the 
example illustrated (Fig. 5) the hands are clasped 
behind the head in an amorous gesture. Figures 

*Notably No. C 2 of the Mathura Museum — Vogel. J. Ph., 
Catalogue of the Archaeological Museum of Mathura, Allahabad, 
1910; p. 83 and pi. XIII. 

of this kind, of a somewhat voluptuous character, 
used to be regarded as " dancing girls," but almost 
certainly represent Yakshis, like those which appear 
on the earlier railing pillars at Barhut. Not only in 
theme, however, but equally in style and detail, the 
Mathura railing pillars — whether Buddhist or Jain 
cannot always be certainly determined — are in 
the immediate tradition of the older art, without 
trace of Hellenistic influences. Other sculptures 
include a part of a railing pillar with lotus rosettes 
and one complete crossbar corresponding ; a capital 
of the "Indo-Persepolitan " type, with kneeling 
bulls and lions rampant ; part of a worshipping 
naga, no doubt from a Buddhist nativity, and some 
detached heads. 

All examples of the Mathura school so far men- 
tioned are of the Kushan period or slightly earlier. 
The recent acquisitions, however, include also a 
large head of Buddha (Fig. 6) of the Gupta 
period, well preserved except for injury to the nose. 
This is a typical Gupta work, and closely resembles 
the head of the well-known standing image of 
Buddha from the Jamalpur mound now in the 

XX, 50 



Fig. 9. Buddha 

7th century 

robes are thin and cling to the body closely, reveal- 
ing the form. The hair is disposed in numerous 
short curls, turning to the right and covering the 
crown of the head and the ushnisha. The type is 
full-fleshed but elegantly built, the shoulders very 
broad, the lips, especially the lower lip, very full, 
recalling those of the well-known Mahesa-murti 
(" Trimurti ") at Elephanta. The casting is about 
4 mm. in thickness, over a hard, earthy core ; 
the surface is patinated to a rather light green, and 
partly covered with a calcareous incrustation. In 
all these respects the figure closely resembles the 
well-known series of Buddhist images from Bezwada 
in the Madras Presidency; it is said to have been 
found in Burma, but in any case is of typical Gupta 
character and almost certainly of Indian origin.* 


Buddhist art of the Early Mediaeval period is 
already represented in the Museum by important 
and well-known bronzes from Ceylon (Museum of 
Fine Arts Bulletin, No. 95). Buddhist art of the 
Mid-Mediaeval period (ninth to twelfth century) is 
richly represented amongst recent acquisitions, 
chiefly from Magadha (Bihar and Western Bengal) 
— the original home of Buddhism. The most 
important of these sculptures (Fig. 8) is a large 
black stone image of Padmapani (the Bodhisattva 
Avalokitesvara). The Bodhisattva is seated at 
ease (lalitasana) ; he has high dressed hair (jata 
mukuta), and wears the usual royal costume. The 
right forearm and part of the left arm are missing, 
but the expanded rose lotus held in the left hand 

*Sewell, Some Buddhist bronzes. J. R. A. S., London, 1895. A 
closely related seated Buddha from Badulla, Ceylon, is illustrated in 
Coomaraswamy, A. K., Bronzes in the Colombo Museum, Colombo, 
1914, pi. XVII, Fig. 46. A very similar but earlier standing Buddha 
figure from Dong Du'ong in Annam has been regarded as of Indian origin 
(H. Parmentier, Bull, de l'Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient, Vol. XIX, 
1919; and ibid, Vol. XI, pp. 471, 472). 

Mathura Museum.* A somewhat earlier head, 
published in the Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin, 
No. 104, is of a more personal and individual 
character; the present example adequately illus- 
trates the formula — in which the tendencies of 
older Indian art are brought to a focus. This focus 
is the starting point for the development of freer 
movement and increasing elegance in early mediaeval 
sculpture in India proper, and on this formula the 
Buddhist art of Indonesia and the Far East is 
largely moulded. 

Buddhist art of the Gupta period (A.D. 320-700) 
is further represented amongst recent acquisitions by 
a standing copper figure of Buddha (Fig. 9), lack- 
ing only the right arm and one foot. The monastic 
robes of the latter image cover only the left shoulder; 
the indenture of the girdle is clearly marked, the 

*Vogel, J. Ph., Catalogue of the Archaeological Museum at Mathura, 
Allahabad, 1910, pi. IX and pp. 49-50. 


mm ifrtt— ill* 

Fig. 10. Padmapani 

1 3 th century 


XX, 51 

Fig. 1 1 . Buddha and the Eight Great Miracles 

Bihar, 1 2th century 

remains ; the 'pedestal consists of a lotus throne 
(padmasanay. supported by a stem, from which 
there spring smaller sprays to right and left; a 
smaller flower supports the pendent foot. 

Another Padmapani (Fig. 1 0), in metal, from 
Bengal, of the eleventh or twelfth century, is much 
smaller, but of exquisite workmanship. The figure 
is similarly seated and clothed ; a small stupa is repre- 
sented in the headdress ; the right hand is raised 
in the gesture of exposition, the left carries a rose 
lotus spray, the distinguishing attribute of Pad- 

A stone sculpture of high interest (Fig. 1 I ), and 
remarkably preserved, represents the Eight Great 
Miracles or significant events of the Buddha's life. 
The central figure (2), seated beneath the bodhi 
tree in the position of " calling the earth to witness,'* 
represents the Assault of Mara and refers to the 
Great Enlightenment (Maha-Sambodhi); in the 
lower left hand (proper right) corner is represented 
( 1 ) the Nativity (Jati), Maya Devi standing beneath 
the Asoka tree, supporting herself by her right arm, 

the child emerging from her right side; above this is 
represented (3) the Preaching of the First Sermon 
(Dharmacakra pravartana, lit. : " setting in motion 
the Wheel of the Law"), the Buddha seated,* 
teaching in the Deer Park at Benares, the circum- 
stance and scene being denoted by the wheel and 
two deer on the pedestal ; above this is a representa- 
tion (4) of the Buddha walking, representing the 
Descent from Heaven (Devavatara). Above this is 
a small seated Baddha, which, with the correspond- 
ing figure on the same level opposite, may be asso- 
ciated with the representation of the Great Miracle 
at Sravasti, or, like the two small dupas right ancr 
left of the head of the central figure, may be 
merely accessory. On the right hand side (proper 
left of the representation) a standing figure (5), 
with a small elephant beside the feet, represents 
the Taming of the Maddened Elephant ; below 
this is another seated figure (6), teaching, but 

*The lotus seat is the usual symbol of miraculous birth and divinity ; 
the lions of the lion throne refer to Sakya Muni, the epithet applied to the 
Buddha, as the " Lion of the Sakya clan." 

XX, 52 


symbols alone. It is interesting to observe that 
certain of these symbols, e. g., the wheel and the 
stupa are still employed, side by side with the more 
anthropomorphic statements, and that even these 
statements are summary symbols or formulae rather 
than detailed representations of events. It may be 
remarked that it is not for the sake of mystery or 
obscurity that symbols are employed in Oriental 
art; the symbols, whether anthropomorphic or 
otherwise, constitute a definite and well-known 
language, and are employed for the sake of brevity 
and clarity of statement. 

Amongst a series of votive plaques from Nalanda, 
the site of the most famous Indian Buddhist univer- 
sity, the seal of the University (Fig. 7) shows above 
the inscription (Sri Nalanda mahavihara . . . .) 
the formula already mentioned as referring to the 
Preaching of the First Sermon in the Deer Park 
at Benares. 

The sculptures last described, together with a 
number of other pieces amongst the recent acquisi- 
tions, and the head of a Bodhisattva published in 
the Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin, No. 1 04, p. 6 1 
(Ross Collection), adequately illustrate the Buddhist 

Fig. 12. Head of Buddha 
Cambodian (Khmer), 9th century 

without the wheel and deer, representing the 
Great Miracle at Sravasti; below this again a 
seated figure (7) holding a bowl, representing the 
44 Monkey's Offering " ; at the top is represented 
(8) the Parinirvana, the dying Buddha reclining 
on a couch, with disciples to right and left ; the 
significance is further marked by the small stupa 
represented above the reclining figure ; while 
musical instruments (only the hands of the players 
being shown) indicate the aerial presence of Gandh- 
arvas. Around the edge of the slab runs an 
inscription, the Buddhist " creed," in Sanskrit 
characters and language : 

If all things sprung from a cause 
The Buddha hath revealed the cause ; 
Likewise he reveals how each must end — 
Such is the word of the Great Sage. 

This " creed," so commonly inscribed on Buddhist 
sculptures, embodies the essential doctrine of the 
Enlightenment, the statement of Causality, of which 
the importance lies in this, that the origin of Evil 
(to obtain release from Evil is the rakon d'etre of 
Buddhism) being traced like all else to a cause, and 
the cause (ignorance, etc.,) of Evil being known, 
the suppression of Evil can be effected by suppres- 
sion of the cause. 

Such is the developed form of sculptured repre- 
sentation of the essential material of Buddhism. A 
thousand years earlier the same material would 
have been no less clearly represented, but by 

Fig. 13. Bodhisattva 
Ceylon, 1 0th century 


XX, 53 

sculpture of Magadha and Bengal in the 
Pala period. It is not likely that any of 
the pieces are older than the ninth century, 
and certain that none are subsequent to the 
final destruction of the Buddhist monas- 
teries by Muhammadan conquerors in 


A Khmer head of Buddha (Fig. 1 2) 
is a recent addition to the Ross Collection. 
As is usually the case in Cambodian art, 
the ethnic type is very pronounced, with 
an effect of realism. A slight divergence | 
from Indian formula will be recognized in 
the smooth, conical projection rising from 
the ushnisha or protuberance on the skull. 
This projection is perhaps the prototype 
of the flame which is constantly repre- 
sented in the same situation in later 
Siamese and Ceylonese Buddha figures. 
The dating of isolated Cambodian sculp- 
tures is very uncertain ; the present example 
may be tentatively assigned to the ninth 


The illustration given last in the present article 
(Fig. 1 3) represents a Bodhisattva figure, perhaps 
Maitreya, acquired for the Museum in Ceylon in 
1 92 1 , but unfortunately stolen in transit. It is 
reproduced here, both on account of its great 
intrinsic interest and in the hope that the object 
itself may be ultimately traced. The figure is of 
copper, now much corroded ; it was originally 
covered with thick gold plating, of which only 
traces now remain. The image is said to have 
come from the Kurunegala district ; it can hardly 
be later than the thirteenth century or earlier than 
the tenth. It is related on the one hand to the 
Ceylonese Pattini of the British Museum (Vis- 
vakarma, pi. 48), which is probably later than 
the date (seventh century) hitherto assigned, 
and on the other to the Saint Reading of 
Polonnaruwa ( Visvakarma, pi. 5 1 ), which may 
be regarded, in accord with local tradition, as 
an effigy of Parakrama Bahu the Great (twelfth 
century). In spite of its corroded state, this was 
one of the finest bronzes ever found in Ceylon. 
Ananda Coomaraswamy. 

^ i 


North Central India, / Oth century 

Jaina Sculpture 

Recent Acquisition 

Subscriptions to the Museum 

SUBSCRIBERS to the current expenses of the 
Museum are entitled to receive invitations to 
all general receptions and private views held at the 
Museum during the year, with copies of the Annual 
Report and of the bi monthly Bulletin of the 
Museum ; also, upon application to the Secretary 
of the Museum, to a copy of the Handbook of the 
Museum in the current edition. The subscriptions 
currently received vary from ten dollars to one thou- 
sand dollars. Checks should be made payable to the 
Museum of Fine Arts and addressed to the Museum. 

MAHAVIRA, the historical founder of Jainism 
and contemporary of Buddha, is represented 
in Jain art from the Kushan period onwards, as a 
deified saint to whom prayers may be addressed ; 
though strictly speaking, as a Siddha or liberated 
soul in the Isatpragbhara, he has no longer any 
relation with the world. The large sculpture in 
cream-colored sandstone recently presented to the 
Museum by Dr. Denman W. Ross consists of the 
upper half of an image of Mahavira. The head 
and torso of the Jina are preserved intact ; the 
figure as far as visible is nude. The hair is 
dressed high in ascetic fashion, with some locks 
falling on the shoulders. On the breast is the 
characteristic Jaina sign of the srivatsa, a 
lozenge-shaped mark. Above the head is at 
triple chhatra, surmounted by a crouching figure, 
and branches of an Asoka tree, the characteristic 
enlightenment tree of Mahavira; to right and 
left in the clouds appear a pair of Vidyadharas, 
moving toward the centre, with offerings. Behind 
the torso is represented a throne-back, with ram- 
pant lion brackets, the upper horizontal bar ending 
in makara heads. The sculpture is probably 
from Bundelkhand, North Central India, and may 
be assigned to the ninth century. It is very like 
a figure amongst the ruins south of the Adinatha 
temple, Vaibhargiri, Rajgir, a sacred site of the 
Svetambara Jains (M. F. A. photo, No. 555 1 1). 
The height of the part preserved is about two 
feet and three inches. 

Ananda Coomaraswamy.